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Photo credit for above photo for  musician parade: John Snyder, Farmington Hills, MI

Chris Dorman is a musician, farmer and educator based Shelburne, Vermont. He helped found Bread and Butter Farm with his wife and friends, and founded Music for Sprouts, which recently wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new children’s album “Always There.”

Parent.co is streaming a living-room style concert with Chris Dorman and Friends live (and free) this Father’s Day June 21 at 6:00PM. Learn more >

Parent Co: What are some of your earliest musical memories?

Chris: We had a piano in our house at an early age, and I remember piano lessons when I was a little kid, age 4. The piano ended up not being something that I studied a lot, but it was something that was always in our house, and I did a lot of stuff, exploration with it. To my mind that was the building block of my songwriting, because it was an experimental time.

And honestly, it was a really comforting presence for me as well, every day, before we went to bed. As I got older and my mom would work late, it would be something I would do before I went to bed. My sister told me after we were adults that she used to fall asleep listening to it, that it was comforting for her as well.

Did either of your parents play piano?

That was the idea. My mom actually didn’t start learning until she went back to school. She got really good, really quickly too. She still plays. She sang in a band, a cover band, for a while. My dad always sang too. He gets booked to sing at churches, even though he doesn’t go to church. He was just telling me last night, actually, that if anyone ever takes issue with that, he just says that his goal is to embrace the music and connect with it, and that’s what he does.

Can you tell me about your Music for Sprouts program?

Yeah, it’s a music and movement program, and also just sort of a music appreciation class for families. We focus a lot on connecting the children to the music, and thinking about the ways they absorb information, but also, sharing activities that parents can really get into, and they can take home, and play in the car over, and over, and over again, It really becomes a way to celebrate each other, and connect to each other, and create musical moments together.

Do you meet a lot of parents who are intimidated at first, or too reserved to express themselves musically, or to feel like they could even get involved with their children on that level.

I do get a sense, especially in the first few classes, that there are varying levels of comfort with singing, and participating in a group setting. I always say, to the kiddos and parents alike, though more often I’ll focus it towards the kiddos, thinking the parents will be even more comfortable if I do so. I’ll just say, “Listening is often a very, very active way to give to each other, and to express yourself. So sing along in any way you feel comfortable, even if it is sitting and taking it all in.”

Some kiddos and grownups will do that for a whole year, or forever, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. What I love about it is the music moves through you as long as you’re open to it, and even if you’re not really, there’s not a whole lot that can stop the music from going right through.

Why do you think that is?

Well, I think we’re permeable. Just the physics of sound, the actual sound is moving through and vibrating through our body. We’re water, so there’s the physics of it, but then when a song is coming from a genuine place, coming from the heart, it’s hard not to connect to that too. That’s what I think I love about listening being an active thing. Even if you need it to be private, it can be, and you can still really get something out of it. It can be just for you.

Parents get self-conscious about how their kiddos are in class, whether they’re supposed to be doing this or that, and again I say even if you think your kiddo is not taking it in, they are. Maybe the way they need to express themselves that week is to just run around, or be in a corner by themselves. Some kids jump right in and want to play everything, and some kiddos sit quietly in their parents lap with wide eyes.Even in the most quiet kiddos, you start to see how they recognize the beginnings and ends of songs, and when they hear something familiar, and then I get to see even little smiles the parents don’t get to see, reactions … It’s all good. That’s what’s really great about it, especially at this age, or any age. It’s all good. There are no expectations.

What are some of the many ways that music finds its way into your house?

Right now it’s pretty exciting. Well, I’ll back it up. Having kids, to begin with, I was totally afraid that music would leave. Before I had Henry I was playing 200 shows a year in the midwest circuit with folk music, Indie folk music, and (when we had our first child) I was the best candidate for stay-at-home parent. We really wanted that for our kids. I didn’t know how I was going to keep it up. The first couple of years were really a tough balance and a lot of worry that I wasn’t going to be able to keep going.

Did you think that you wouldn’t be able to keep your music career going?

Exactly. I knew I could never be the musician I wanted to be if I wasn’t the dad that I wanted to be first. There was moments when I wasn’t, and it was all mixed up, but anyways, when we moved here to Vermont, Henry was 2, and again we had a lot going on. It wasn’t until our daughter, Samantha was born, I decided for the first time since I started playing music when I was a teenager that I was going to take one year off from shows. So Henry’s 4, Sam is a newborn, and I take a year off, and it was in that space that I developed the idea of Music for Sprouts, though it was Corie who named it. She came up with the name.

I figured this would be a way to help us keep our head above water, and an also a way to play music regularly. So I launched it in fall of 2012, and realized at that point, after a few weeks, I was totally in love with the work. Instead of it being a parallel journey to what I was already doing, or enabling what I was already doing, in three years it’s become my full-time gig.

What I was really wanting to get to, to answer your question, is that when Henry was a newborn it almost felt like I was at odds with him, like parenting and music were separate. Now my own kiddos are the ones who fill our house with music, even more than I do. Henry is on the piano any second he gets a chance. Samantha is like this whimsical fairy who sings, and if she’s given the space, she’ll sing at the top of her lungs, and now she requests “daddy music.” It’s a dream come true, and she knows all the words to all the songs, and now our house is filled to the brim with music, so it’s more than I could have dreamt of.

Did you ever worry that making music, and particularly music for kids, would take away some of your energy or desire to do it just as a dad with your own kids?

I think I worried about that more when I wasn’t making music for kids. My kids have really been my muse through this. I test all my songs out on them, and I ask their honest opinions about things, so they’re super involved. I really feel like we’re making more music together because of it.

Yeah, it sounds like a rare opportunity, and a rare combination. There aren’t a lot of parents who get to build their career with the help of their children. That’s a really cool, unique-sounding opportunity that you’ve created for yourself.

I don’t know if I anticipated it, but it’s beautiful, and I’m interested to see how it evolves as they get older as well.

What thoughts would you offer for parents who still long to create, but can’t make their living doing the creative things they want to do?

One thing I go back to is making sure that you feel wonderful about how you are doing as a parent, as a mom or dad. I say that with a grain of salt, because it goes day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute. There’s going to be days when you feel totally, “Man, I’m the worst ever.”

But another question would be what is it creatively …? What is it about creating things that fulfills you, because there can be a hundred different ways to accomplish that goal. That was the big thing for me, the hardest thing, was to let go of this idea that there was only one way to accomplish my dreams. When you let it go, and you allow yourself to be open, you could end up being led in a new direction.

How does music help people, kids and adults, to experience the openness that you’re talking about.

I think listening is key, and so music definitely inspires us to do that. I think that’s the first step. If you stay still for a while, and you keep your ears open, then maybe you’ll find your place in it.

We do a jam session every week where a bunch of instruments get dumped out onto the floor, and I take my ukulele, and there’s no set song. I have a bunch of songs in my head, and I try to play as lightly as I can and feel out the room. It’s interesting, because after a couple of minutes, it’s almost like there’s this air of anonymity.

It’s like we create this little comfort zone where we’re all focused on the kids, and what they’re doing, and then parents get the sense that nobody’s looking, and I’m in this, and then the jam really begins… Yeah, I think it’s listening first, and then just taking the leap.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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